Thoughts from a Computer Climate Guy
Posted by Jeff Condon on November 23, 2009
So who got the files. There is a bunch of interesting stuff to speculate about, first Dr. Gavin Schmidt left this on SurReal Climate:
There seems to be some doubt about the timeline of events that led to the emails hack. For clarification and to save me going through this again, this is a summary of my knowledge of the topic. At around 6.20am (EST) Nov 17th, somebody hacked into the RC server from an IP address associated with a computer somewhere in Turkey, disabled access from the legitimate users, and uploaded a file FOIA.zip to our server. They then created a draft post that would have been posted announcing the data to the world that was identical in content of the comment posted on The Air Vent later that day. They were intercepted before this could be posted on the blog. This archive appears to be identical to the one posted on the Russian server except for the name change. Curiously, and unnoticed by anyone else so far, the first comment posted on this subject was not at the Air Vent, but actually at ClimateAudit (comment 49 on a thread related to stripbark trees, dated Nov 17 5.24am (Central Time I think)). The username of the commenter was linked to the FOIA.zip file at realclimate.org. Four downloads occurred from that link while the file was still there (it no longer is).
So from Gavin we have Turkey.
From Steve McIntyre we have a Russian link left several hours before the Air Vent.
The IP address of the commenter at CA was Russian 18.104.22.168.
From the Air Vent we have a Saudi Server 22.214.171.124
So here’s my take on it:
There are plenty of possibilities within a narrow range. I’m a bit of a computer guy and a bit climate science so I can tell that this was done by someone or a group with significant knowledge of both computers and the issues. The hacking of a server (RC) took a bit of doing but the collation of the files took a great deal of time (and understanding). Someone knew the issues skeptics have been focused on, and this file set seems to have been associated with the skeptic FOIA requests.
Another possibility is the FOIA was compiled by someone else and when blocked (illegally by government officials), one computer guy released them. Apparently there were FOIA requests for all of this information revealed so you can imagine the time and understanding it takes to sort through this much scientific info and pick the relevant bits. – which they did “perfectly”.
Then we have the release of the info from proxy servers in less than friendly countries. This is not unsophisticated and made me think of a government agency first. Someone with resources and knowledge. Who’s going to be able get a proxy link from Russia, Saudi Arabia or Turkey and which proxy sent the email to those? They knew what they were doing.
So if we have absolutely perfect sorting of data for FOIA info– it almost had to be compiled during the investigation (removal of all email header info and renaming) was almost certainly done by a computer guy and despite the rejections of FOIA (through corruption – I would like to see more MSM coverage of this)perhaps some govt employee wasn’t thrilled. The total is compiled into a single zip file with all relevant code and details and emailed.
It all seems to me like a whistle blower who got ticked that FOIA was ignored (illegally). Perhaps someone who heard the conversations between Phil Jones and the Govt. officials. I doubt very much that this was a simple hacker, while busting computers is revered amongst movie fanatics, it doesn’t seem particularly amazing to me however it is not unskilled. Knowing which issues to deliver though is the result of someone with real knowledge. If it were a hack, the file had been prepared by FOIA officials and the contents must have been known by the hackers – headers removed and all. If it is a whistle blower, they were the CS guys working with the climate scientists who got ticked off at the asinine discussions of what was going on.
What do you think?